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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Statements by Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and France's Defence Minister Florence Parly following thw signing of the agreement for the procurement of "RAFALE" fighter aircraft

Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

25 Jan, 2021

The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos welcomed the French Minister of Defence, Ms. Florence Parly,on Monday 25 January 2021, in the Ministry of National Defence.

The welcoming was attended by the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Chief/HNDGS General Konstantinos Floros, the General Secretary of the Ministry Mr. Antonis Oikonomou, the Chief/HAFGS Lieutenant General (HAF) Georgios Blioumis, the Chief/HAGS Lieutenant General Charalambos Laloussis, and the Chief/HNGS Stylianos Petrakis (HN).

Mr. Panagiotopoulos and Ms. Parly had a private meeting, while representations from Greece and France had bilateral talks at "Ioannis Kapodistrias" Hall. The two Ministers attended the signing of the Agreement for the procurement of 18 "Rafale" fighters; afterwards, the Minister of National Defence accompanied his French counterpart to the Maximos Mansion, where Ms Parly was received by the Prime Minister Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

After the signing of the Agreement, the Minister of National Defence stated the following:

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today I had the honour and pleasure to welcome the Minister of Defence of the French Republic, Mrs. Florence Parly, at the Ministry of National Defence, in the context of an official visit of hers in Athens, on the occasion of the Contracts' signing regarding 18 "Rafale" fighters.

The procurement of the French "Rafale" fighters is a landmark for our bilateral defence cooperation, and for the relations between Greece and France in general. It will contribute to the additional reinforcement of the fighting capability and deterrence power of the Air Force and the Armed Forces, whose basic mission is the defence of our country's territorial integrity and sovereign rights.

We are really proud as, until now, no negotiations regarding such a complex and extended armaments programme were completed so quickly and systematically. The personnel who were involved in this, from both sides, deserve congratulations.

By acquiring the "Rafale" fighters, the fire power of the Hellenic Air Force will be multiplied. The special features of the "Rafale", with the advanced electronic systems, along with their weapons of strategic nature, make them an important factor of air supremacy.

Furthermore, choosing to acquire the "Rafale" fighters highlights the strategic nature of the Greek-French relations, and France's unwavering support in our country, against challenges and threats. It confirms a long tradition of excellent cooperation relations between our countries, both at bilateral level and in the context of regional and international organisations.

These relations are based on solidarity and the powerful, ever lasting and sincere friendship of our countries and peoples, already since the era of the 1821 Greek Revolution and the contribution of the French philhellenes and France, as Great Power, to Greece's national struggle for freedom.

With my counterpart Ms. Parly, we expressed our satisfaction for the high level of our bilateral defence relations, as well as our wider cooperation, which will be further expanded, both at tactical and strategic level.

Additionally, we had the opportunity to exchange views on our cooperation in the context of the European Defence Initiatives and our participation in the "Permanent Structured Cooperation", known as PESCO, as well as the steps towards the implementation of the vision we share with France, regarding Europe of Defence.

Finally, we discussed the security and stability challenges in the East Mediterranean and our common will to contribute to the security, stability and welfare in the wider region, based on the respect of the rules of International Law and the Principles of good Neighbourliness.

Madam Minister, dear Florence, once again I welcome you in Greece.

Thank you".

The Minister of Defence of France, Ms. Florence Parly, stated the following:

"Mister Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

Almost a year ago, on 29 January 2020, President Macron and Prime Minister Mitsotakis announced their intention to develop a strategic relation among our countries; I would like to express my pride and joy today, as I am here with my counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos, to attend the signing of the agreement for the procurement by Greece of 18 Rafale.

In this way, Greece becomes the first European country to acquire this fighter, thus obtaining capabilities and technological means whose excellence is collectively recognised, while its efficiency is incessantly proved on the field. I am very happy for Greece's choice; a choice that is exclusively European.

Our countries share many common purposes, aspirations and challenges, which we have the will to commonly develop and confront. The quality of the cooperation between France and Greece is particularly visible in the Mediterranean, where the exercises have increased in the last months, both at bilateral and multilateral level.

I shall only refer to two of them: the first one was in the form of a quadrilateral cooperation with our Italian and Cypriot allies, last August, when we all commonly confirmed our presence at sea and in the air, by common exercises of our Armed Forces. In addition, we participated in a similar exercise last December in Egypt, on the side of our partners from the UAE and Cyprus.

You can rest assured that this momentum will be further enhanced within 2021.

In a few days, we shall develop important air assets in Greece, in the context of the "Skyros" mission. This long-range development shall include up to 170 airmen, four Rafale, two A400M "Atlas" and a MTT "Phoenix".

Given this opportunity, our air forces shall perform operational trainings. France shall also participate in the international exercise "Iniochos", planned for 12 to 22 April here in Greece, with four Mirage 2000 and eight Rafale, by the side of the US air forces, as well as forces from Israel, the UAE and Italy.

Finally, sometime by the end of February and early March – in the framework of our "Charles de Gaulle" aircraft carrier mission in the East Mediterranean, the escort of a Greek frigate shall offer a new opportunity to our forces, to travel side-by-side, and learn to cooperate thus enhancing their interoperability.

This cooperation that is being built, particularly in the Mediterranean, is essential for ensuring the European continent's security, and making sure that the right and the freedom of movement will be respected. This region is located at the crossroads of numerous crises – in Libya, in Syria –, it is subject to increasing tension and, against all these challenges, it is really essential for us Europeans to realise that commonly, by acquiring the apposite capabilities, we can find viable solutions.

In the larger picture, we should continue together with the development of a European sovereignty, which will add to the transatlantic link. As far as this issue, as well as many others, is concerned, France is convinced that it can count on Greece's support.

The hope I shall extend today is that we should see this relationship of trust between France and Greece carry on. The excellence of this strategic and operational relationship could maybe be also expressed through new capabilities in the field of the Hellenic Navy; in any case, I hope that it could. France shall soon forward its proposals to Greece, regarding Greece's possibilities to renew of its frigate fleet and preserve its character of sea power.

Today is a big day, dear Mr. Minister.

It is an excellent chance for us to celebrate a prosperous and historic defence relation, as you also said.

This year, the 200th Anniversary since the Greek War of Independence that was decisively assisted by France who fought by your side, I would like to express how proud I am to be here and ensure that this deep and long friendship that bonds our countries shall continue to exist.

Thank you".

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